By Hollie McKay
From escaping Iran through the mountains as a Muslim refugee, to surviving domestic abuse and imprisonment in a Turkish prison, to carving out a life in Sweden, Annahita Parsan’s story is the stuff of a Hollywood movie.
Parsan, a convert from Islam to Christianity and mother of two, has emerged as one of the most prominent religious figures in Europe, both because of her unlikely geographic and spiritual pilgrimage and her decision to reach out to Muslims with the gospel — at great personal risk.
“My life is completely different since coming to Jesus,” said the 47-year-old Parsan, whose memoir, “Stranger No More: A Muslim Refugee Story of Harrowing Escape, Miraculous Rescue and the Quiet Call of Jesus,” was published late last year.
Parsan was raised in a Muslim home in the ancient Iranian province of Isfahan with her parents and four siblings, she told Fox News. She was married at 16, and just after Iran’s Islamic Revolution in 1979 she gave birth to a boy, Daniel. Iran quickly became a different place under the Ayatollah Khomeini, and when Parsan’s beloved husband was tragically killed in a car accident – she was just 18 – she was forced to surrender custody of her son to her husband’s father, in accordance with the law. After several months, she bravely and successfully fought to get back her son.
“After two years, I decided to marry again. His situation was like mine; his wife had died,” Parsan recalled. “But soon, he began beating my son very badly… I was pregnant again, and it was impossible for me to divorce.”
On the heels of bringing a daughter she named Roksana into the world and with the Iran-Iraq war raging around them, Parsan’s husband Ashgar compelled them to flee in 1984 across frozen mountains into Turkey in the dead of winter. Without identification papers or passports, Turkish authorities tossed Parsan and her husband into a terrifying prison in the country’s Agri district for illegal entry. However, after a harrowing month they were released and traveled to Istanbul. There they spent nine months scrounging for enough funds to make it to Denmark.
It was in this tiny Scandinavian country where the seeds of her eventual spiritual transformation were planted.
“In about the first or second month there, a woman came to the door to speak about God. But it was not in my interest,” Parsan recalled. “I was so angry, I was so unhappy. But she came back the next day with a small Bible, so this time I asked Jesus to help me.”
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